Guide in a Hide                               

Where: The Loons hidesix people sitting in a bird hide looking through binoculars

When: 10am - 1pm Monday 15 May 

With: RSPB Scotland

Cost: Free event. Donations welcome.

Booking required: No. Drop in at any time during the session

Contact: RSPB ScotlandEmail: [email protected] 

Mike, our Guide in a Hide, will be at The Loons hide to help you identify the birds you spot and answer any birding queries you may have. Suitable for all levels of bird knowledge.


Shorewatch Hoxa Head Walk FULLY BOOKED

spotting guides, binoculars and maps on a tableWhere: Meet at Hoxa Head car park 

Route map

When: 11am Monday 15 May

With: Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Cost: Free event.

Booking required: Yes. Book here 

Contact: Emma Steel - Email: [email protected]

Meet at Hoxa Head car park at 11am for a circular walk around the coastline with Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Shorewatch Coordinator, Emma Steel. The route is around 3km and offers superb views over Scapa Flow, Flotta and Hoy. We’ll be looking out for all species of whales and dolphin, but in this area specifically we are more likely to spot orca, Risso’s dolphin or harbour porpoise. Binoculars will be provided.


Micro-Macro: drawing on nature FULLY BOOKED

Where: Meet at the Brough of Birsay car park birsay stone, tracy mackenna, 2023

N.B. Parking places are limited, so you may consider parking at The Palace (public car park, public WC), and walking along to the meeting point.

When: 11am - 1pm Monday 15 May

With: The Museum of Loss and Renewal

Cost: £10 per person. Payment details sent with booking confirmation.

Booking required: Yes. Maximum 10 people. Email Tracy Mackenna to book. Please use Micro-Macro ONF in subject line.

Contact: Tracy MackennaEmail: [email protected]

Join artist, curator and Professor Emerita, Tracy Mackenna, RSA, for a 2 hour outdoor drawing session on the shoreline of Birsay Bay.

Orkney’s geology is breath-taking, and this drawing event is designed for us to look up close at the same time as considering the scale of our environment and our place in natures forces. The spectacular rock structures at Birsay Bay reflect how landmasses have moved, and how glacial erosion has sculpted the islands that we know today as Orkney.

The drawing event will take place on rocks that are 400 million years old, and whose intricate and immersive patterns draw us in whist helping us consider climate change in the past, perhaps helping us predict future scenarios. Everyone who has an interest in drawing can participate, regardless of skill level. Bring the materials that you are comfortable with, and any surfaces - notebooks, watercolour paper, iPad etc.

We will undertake a few easy exercises such as ‘Slow Looking’ (Tishman) to look slowly and differently through and with drawing, and ‘Visual Dialogue’ (Bohm) when we will work in pairs to create things in common. We will engage various focal explorations such as scatter vision, visual list making, drawing movement and sound and what is felt; drawing the site from different points of view, always considering micro and macro perspectives.

The event has been specially devised for Orkney Nature Festival by Tracy (The Museum of Loss and Renewal) who is passionate about the power of drawing as a way to process information visually, kinesthetically and semantically, who draws every day, and makes her drawings public through exhibitions and publications.

The atmosphere of the event will be supportive, and enjoyable. Steps with a handrail lead down to the beach. Rock surfaces are textured and angular, so wearing sturdy footwear is advisable.


A Hands-on Look at the Evolution of Bird Beaks 

Where: Kirkwall Grammar School   a selection of bird skulls on a table

When: 7pm Monday 15 May

With: Henry Memmott, Science/Biology Teacher, Kirkwall Grammar School

Cost: Free event

Booking required: No

Contact: Henry Memmott - Email: [email protected]

The history of research on evolution has been heavily influenced by the study of bird’s beaks since the 1800s. This research has continued into the modern day, making use of digital technology such as 3D modelling. This session will provide some background to this research, an explanation of current thinking on evolution, and a chance to get look at and handle skulls from some of Orkney’s native birds to understand why they differ so much.


Orkney Shells

Where: Stromness Museum       

When: 7.30pm - 9pm Monday 15 May

With: Holly Young

Cost: Free event

Booking required: No

Contact: Stromness Museum - Email: [email protected]

The Robert Rendall shell collection, which is housed in Stromness Museum, is an incredibly valuable resource to all who are interested by the natural world. This talk will introduce the collection and the man who created it.

Robert Rendall is a very well-known figure in Orkney and was a man of many skills, talents, and hobbies. Alongside being a skilled poet, a preacher and painter, Rendall was a passionate naturalist. He had a particular love for shells and went on to publish extensively on the subject, with special focus given to the shell species found around Orkney.

Reference collections, such as Robert Rendall’s, are vitally important and contribute to many research projects. As part of this presentation, we will also explore how marine molluscs contributed to historic and prehistoric life and how, as archaeologists, we use shell assemblages and reference collections to examine interactions with the marine world in the past.


If you attend any of the Orkney Nature Festival events in 2023, it would really help us if you could take a minute to complete the very brief feedback form here. Thank you.

sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement